Someone is usually killing, murdered, raped, or running from someone in the books I love.
I’m not sure what attracts me so much to thrillers and mysteries, but there definitely is a pattern to the books I read.
I read 105 books in 2017. Of those, I gave 35 fiction books a perfect grade, meaning they stood out to me as exceptional above all of the other fiction books I read. In short, if you’re going to read for pleasure, these are the books I highly recommend.
If you’re up for death with a plot twist, this list is for you, but there also are a few books on here outside of my typical taste. Hopefully there’s something for everyone.
Here are my 35 favorite fiction books of 2017. You can click the titles to purchase each book from Amazon.
Olivia’s abusive husband, David, committed suicide. Now she is trying to put her life back together while being somewhat of an outsider in the town where David and his parents have long been a dominant family. It’s a place where no one is willing to admit that David may not have been perfect, instead painting him as the victim of a bad marriage to a woman who wasn’t good enough for him.
A plot twist at the end will leave you screaming at this book.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood is amazing and terribly sad. You want the main characters to be together, but you’re also not certain theirs it isn’t an abusive and inappropriate relationship. Either way, the book gives the reader a lot to consider.
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things is the story of Wavy, a little girl wise beyond her years. Wavy is the daughter of a meth dealer and a mentally ill woman. As essentially the adult in the household, Wavy is responsible for herself and her 8-year-old brother, Donal. That is, until Kellen, an ex-con who works for her father, takes a special interest in helping her.
Kellen takes care of Wavy throughout her youth, but, when she becomes a teenager, their relationship develops into more. When Wavy’s aunt finds out about the relationship, she does everything in her power to make sure the couple isn’t together, tearing Wavy apart yet again in the process.
George’s parents try to rescue him from the mess, while he keeps looking increasingly guilty. It soon is discovered that George just isn’t a nice man.
Three teenage brothers also become part of the mystery after it’s discovered that the Clares moved into their childhood farm, which has a dark past of its own.
An investigative reporter named Poppy Parnell has launched a podcast about the murder of Josie’s father 13 years ago. Since the murder, Josie’s mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister, Lanie, married Josie’s high school sweetheart. More importantly, there’s a man on death row for their father’s murder and the reporter is using the podcast to prove his innocence.
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber is about Josie Buhrman, a woman who has spent the last 10 years trying to escape her past. Josie ran away to New York where her live-in boyfriend, Caleb, doesn’t even know her real name, let alone her history. But Josie can’t hide any longer.
The book goes back and forth between Josie’s life and scripts of the podcast that were affecting it. It’s like reading a who dunnit while listening to a true crime investigative podcast.
As she settles into a new life in a rural town with the help of her doctor, she renames herself “Water” and begins to try to remember her old life.
Interestingly, the person with all of the answers is a lot closer than Water thinks.
But Charlene has been planning. She learned to box and shoot. She’s in amazing physical condition. Her goal is to at least harm her killer or get some DNA to help the police find the killer once she’s murdered. That’s where Det. D.D. Warren comes in.
Charlene recruits Boston’s top homicide detective in the weeks before Jan. 21 to help investigate her murder, even though it hasn’t happened yet. Can the detective save Charlene before her time runs out?
Det. Erika Foster has divers searching for a drug stash, but with it they find a child’s skeleton. The remains are identified as belonging to Jessica Collins. The 7-year-old went missing 26 years ago while walking down the suburban street in her neighborhood to a friend’s birthday party.
To solve the case, Det. Foster has to piece together old evidence, including that from the original detective, who became an alcoholic after failing to solve the case. In the process she learns more about the family’s secrets and those within her own department.
When his grandmother dies, Edgar is left with his mother, Lucy, who hardly seems fit to raise him. Then Edgar meets a man who seems to understand him more than anyone ever has.
As Lucy searches for her kidnapped son, Edgar learns how to deal with the ghosts that have always been in his head.
Edgar and Lucy probably was the most well written book I read this year. The writing grabbed me right from the first page.
Fatal by John Lescroart is the story of 44-year-old Kate. Kate and her husband, Ron, are happily married and seem to be living a blessed life, until Kate cheats on Ron with Peter, a friend of a friend she meets at a dinner party.
Kate is ready to move on with her life after the indiscretion, but Peter has other ideas. There are some things that he just might not be able to let go.
Insert a terror attack and several other murders and you’ve got a ton of plot twists to keep you reading.
But Maggie isn’t convinced that Celine killed herself.
The more she discovers in her apartment and through her friends, the more convinced Maggie becomes that Celine was murdered and her lover was involved. Unfortunately, Maggie also finds herself attracted to Celines former lover.
The London native decides to push herself through her anxiety by switching apartments with her cousin from Boston. She thinks the temporary change might be just what both of them need to reset.
Unfortunately, Corbin’s neighbor is murdered right after Kate arrives and she finds herself entwined in a mystery, wondering if history is repeating itself.
Ella Longfield overhears two young men flirting with two teenage girls on a train. Her maternal instincts kick in and she almost intervenes, telling the girls to stay away from the boys. In the end, she decides to mind her own business and says nothing. The next day, she sees on the news that one of the girls is missing.
A year later, Anna Ballard still is missing and Ella is riddled with guilt about what she should have or could have done to save the girl. As the anniversary of Anna’s disappearance gets closer, what really happened that night begins to become apparent.
The rest of I Found You by Lisa Jewell is about the man remembering little-by-little why he came back to the small costal town and remembering more than he even knew he’d forgotten. And, of course, about the flak the already unpopular Alice gets from the community for taking in a stranger.
Zoe Walker is a creature of habit. Just like most of us, she takes the same route to and from work every day. She uses the same trains, stands in the same place on the platform, etc. It’s all part of that mindless routine we’re all subject to performing.
One night on the way home, Zoe sees a classified ad with a photo of herself in the local newspaper. The ad provides a phone number and the web address FindTheOne.com.
Zoe is spooked enough that she begins paying attention to the ads, even though she’s not certain the grainy photo is her. Soon she discovers that the women featured in these ads are all victims of violent crimes, and she may be next.
Amber Bryant and Tyler Hicks have been best friends since they were teenagers. They’re so close that they’ve always been just like family. Tyler even was Amber’s lifeline when she nearly died from an eating disorder.
But Tyler always has secretly loved Amber and hoped they would end up together.
Amber comes home to live for the summer after college graduation, then she plans to move with her fiance. While she’s home, she starts spending more time with Tyler. Then, one alcohol fueled night, Tyler does something that destroys their friendship forever.
IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND
Three super different college roommates—Kate, Aubrey and Jenny—vow in college that they will always be there for each other. It’s the typical college promise, which they make without even always liking each other.
Fast forward 20 years and one of them is dead. The other two try to figure out what happened to their friend, while trying to protect themselves and their small-town lives in the process. The more they learn, the more they question if they were ever really friends at all.
Elena grew up in Shaker Heights, always planning to marry and nice man and raise a good family there. It’s exactly what she’s done, and it’s a lifestyle she intends to protect.
When Mia Warren, a single mother and artist, shows up in town with her daughter, Pearl, life in Shaker Heights becomes a little less perfect. Even the Richardsons aren’t immune to the drama that Mia and Pearl bring to town.
Det. Jenna Murphy knows, when she begins investigating a double murder in the abandoned house, that there’s more to the house’s haunting history than most people care to admit. She doesn’t believe in curses, so she intends to find out what exactly is happening at Murder House and who is responsible.
Lindsey Nash took her daughter and ran away from her abusive husband. The same night, her husband, Andrew, was driving under the influence, causing a wreck that killed a woman. He’s been in prison for 11 years.
Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens begins with Andrew’s release, followed by his steps to form a relationship with his daughter and a series of frightening “coincidences” that Lindsey is certain he is responsible for.
Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad are best friends, but, when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol’s Feeder Canal, Abdi becomes temporarily mute and won’t provide Noah’s family with information about what happened.
Abdi’s silence makes what first looks like an accident seem potentially sinister. Soon the public creates a story of a Somali refugee boy killing his British best friend.
It’s up to the police to determine what actually happened to Noah that night and end the cultural friction in the community.
Redemption Road by John Hart has a host of unlikely, intertwined characters including a little boy who wants revenge for his mother’s murder, crooked cops (actual and perceived), a rogue detective who you want to win, a senile attorney who is brighter than everyone else, and a preacher with more problems than the whole lot of them.
But Redemption Road really is all about justice and the things people will go through to get it, even when it seems impossible.
Ruth Jefferson is an experienced labor and delivery nurse. She is making her rounds and stops to check on a baby, only to be told later by a supervisor that the baby’s parents, who are white supremacists, do not want her touching their little boy.
Ruth is shocked, angered and hurt by the mandate to stay away from the infant, but moves on doing her job.
The next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is the only one in the nursery. Ruth hesitates, but helps the baby. When he dies, Ruth is charged with his death.
That’s what happened to Gina Royal, a housewife with two children, who goes on the run, disguising her identity and that of her children to protect them from people who think she knew about her husband’s crimes and protected him.
When the trio ends up at Stillhouse Lake, Gina (now Gwen) begins to finally feel at home and like they might be able to stay for awhile. But then a dead woman is pulled from the lake and threatening letters begin arriving from her ex-husband, who is in jail for his crimes.
Toni Murphy was not a perfect teenager. She drank, did drugs, had a rebel boyfriend, and lied to her parents, further straining an already difficult relationship. Despite Toni’s flaws, she wasn’t a murderer.
When Toni’s younger sister is brutally murdered, she and her boyfriend, Ryan, are convicted of the crime and sent to prison.
Once they’re out on parole, Toni and Ryan (who aren’t allowed to be in contact) end up back in the small town of their youth, trying to clear their names.
The book is about a journalist (You see why I love it?) who is investigating the discovery of a baby’s skeleton at a construction site in London.
As Kate Waters tries to figure out the baby’s identity, she discovers that it could be a baby stolen from a maternity ward decades earlier.
The reporter ends up discovering one woman who desperately hopes the baby is hers and one who doesn’t.
A modern-day horror story about the house at One Folgate Street, the eccentric architect who built the home and the women who must give up all of their possessions and agree to constant monitoring by the house in order to live there.
Emma is willing to submit to a lack of privacy because she is traumatized from a previous break-in and wants to finally feel safe.
Jane learns about the death of the previous owner and develops a relationship with the house’s architect after moving in following her own personal tragedy.
Perhaps the only thing that’s true about One Folgate Street is that it will change its occupants forever.
Anthony Peardew became the keeper of lost things after he lost his fiancee’s most prized possession on the day she died. Having tied her death to his irresponsibility, Anthony begins collecting and labeling things he finds that other people have lost. He does this for 40 years until his death, when he leaves his strange collection to his assistant, Laura.
Laura’s job is to take care of Anthony’s home and to reunite as many of the lost things with their owners.
Joe Talbert is just trying to get an A in English. He is supposed to interview a stranger and write the person’s biography. He goes to a nearby nursing home to find a subject and meets Carl Iverson.
Carl is convicted of raping and murdering a teenage girl who lived next to him. He spent 30 years in prison before being medically paroled to the nursing home with terminal cancer.
As Joe learns more about Carl, he realizes that he’s found more than just an interesting topic for an English paper. He believes Carl was wrongfully accused and the girl’s murderer is still out there. But how can Joe prove Carl’s innocence before the man dies?
The book begins with what’s basically every spouse’s worst nightmare—the death of the partner. Iris actually learns from a news report that her husband of seven years, Will, was on a Seattle-bound plane that crashed into a field, killing all of the passengers on board.
Iris tries to cope with the loss of her husband while uncovering more and more lies, and wondering if he was living some kind of double life. In the end, what she finds out is more disturbing than what she could have imagined.
The girls start a group, the Nowhere Girls, as a movement against the misogynist culture at their high school, which they soon discover is negatively impacting every girl in the school.
The Nowhere Girls are no one and everyone at the same time. United, they use their power to transform the lives of the victims around them and the boys who victimize them.
Maddy never told anyone what happened that night, but the truth, including who the boys were (they wore masks from the play) begins to come out through an English class assignment to write a collaborative novel. The class project forces Maddy to deal with her secret and the terrible emotional toll it has taken on her.
There’s no such thing as a perfect husband, buck Tess really thought she’d found one. Jim Beckett swept her off her feet. He was a handsome police officer who doted on her. She was thrilled when he asked her to marry him and took her away from her unhappy, abusive home life.
Two years later Tess helped put Jim behind bars for murdering 10 women. Jim vowed to make Tess pay for turning him in.
The Perfect Husband by Lisa Gardner is about Tess attempting to keep herself and her daughter safe from her killer husband after he escapes from prison. To do so, she enlists the services of an ex-marine who has a lot of problems of his own.
The Trapped Girl starts when a woman’s body is discovered in a crab pot in Puget Sound. Detective Crosswhite must determine not just who the woman’s killer is, but who the woman is as well.
And, of course, Crosswhite’s life story continues to develop along the way.
When Erin Black was a toddler she survived for three days alongside the dead body of her murdered mother. The case was never solved.
Now Erin is a teenager living with her mom’s best friend when she happens upon the body of her biology teacher. Could the teacher’s death be related to her mother’s?
What others don’t know is that the teacher was trying to help Erin find out the truth about her past.
Russell was a relatable character, even if it was obvious to the reader that his wife was about to up and go for money and a posh lifestyle, leaving him to raise their 6-year-old daughter.
One of the things I liked about this book is that you always hear and read about men doing this to women, leaving for the younger, flashier woman, but Sparks flipped to script. Russ’s character is sadly relatable as life deals him blow after blow, all while he’s just trying to be a good guy and raise his daughter right.
There they are, my 35 favorite fiction books of 2017. I hope you find something on the list to read and love.
As always, happy reading!